King Krishnadeva Raya was seated on his throne, surrounded by his courtiers when suddenly he was overcome with the desire to check how bright and sharp his courtiers were. He gave a bagful of gold coins to each of them, saying, “Here are a thousand gold coins for each of you. You can go and spend it over on whatever you want. But before spending the coins, you must see my face.”
The courtiers happily took a bag each and rushed to the market. One went to the grocery shop; the second went to the goldsmith; a third to the silversmith and so on. But when the time came to part with the money, they remembered that they had to see the king’s face first before seeing anybody else’s. How to go to the king and see his face and come back without seeing any other face on the way? They thought of every possible way but could not find any solution. They had to return home empty handed.
The next morning when they reached the king’s court, the latter asked his courtiers, “I find you are not looking very happy as I had expected you to be. Could you not find something of your choice to purchase at the market?”
They replied with withdrawn faces, “No, we could not purchase anything. We had to come and see Your Majesty’s face before purchasing anything but since that could not be done, we came back without making any purchases. Here are the bags of gold coins which we would like to return to Your Majesty.”
A very disappointed king then turned towards Tenali Raman to ask, “You too could not buy anything with the gold coins I gave you?”
Tenali Raman replied happily, “I have bought a whole lot of things for the house and myself. I enjoyed shopping for the things I wanted but could not afford to buy earlier.”
The king looked pleased, “I am happy to see that at least one of my courtiers has been able to purchase something. But how come, you did not come to see my face before making the purchases?”
Tenali Raman replied, “Your Majesty asked us to see Your Majesty’s face, so I looked at each of the gold coins before handing them over to the shopkeeper. As Your Majesty is aware, Your Majesty’s face is carved out on all the gold coins.”
The king was happy to hear Tenali Raman’s reply and handed him another bagful of gold coins, much to the latter’s delight.